Tigers infielder Steve Lombardozzi had a pair of hits in Tuesday's spring opener. He was to start at shortstop in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Braves. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Lakeland, Fla. — It could happen, almost certainly will happen, at some point in Jose Iglesias’ career. Maybe even this season.
He will strain a muscle or get hit by a pitch or be socked by any one of big-league baseball’s endless string of ailments. He will miss games.
And at that point, the Tigers will need a backup shortstop.
Steve Lombardozzi might or might not be the option there. The Tigers are hoping he’s their guy, which is why Lombardozzi was to start at shortstop in Wednesday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Atlanta Braves at Disney World.
“We’ll find out,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Wednesday morning, a couple of hours before the team bus was to depart for Lake Buena Vista. “I just want to see him play short.
“I think he can make the plays. But I want to see his range. And I’ll consult Omar Vizquel (Tigers infield coach).”
Should they find shortstop isn’t Lombardozzi’s domain, at least on a regular basis, the Tigers likely would reach into their Triple-A Toledo roster, probably for Hernan Perez, should Iglesias be lost for any extended time.
Ausmus also was interested in getting a peek Wednesday at Jordan Lennerton, the 28-year-old first baseman who last season had a solid year at Toledo (.278, 17 home runs). Lennerton was starting at a position that otherwise will be policed by Miguel Cabrera as Cabrera returns to first for Detroit.
“I’ve got to see all these guys play,” Ausmus said. “It takes more than 25 guys to win a pennant.”
Ausmus had mixed his lineup Wednesday with a blend of veterans and youngsters, typical of most Grapefruit League lineups.
Ian Kinsler was again batting leadoff and playing second base. Rajai Davis, playing left field, was in the No. 2 hole. Batting third: Victor Martinez (designated hitter). Lennerton was to hit fourth, followed by Don Kelly (right field), Nick Castellanos, (third base), Daniel Fields (center field), Bryan Holaday (catcher) and Lombardozzi.
Drew Smyly was to start for the Tigers.